Taking a MB from the UK to Arizona

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by TJM, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. TJM

    TJM New Member

    My wife and I are planning to buy a vacation home in Arizona this year, where we will spend 4-5 months each year. I am currently looking at the practicalities of bringing my 49cc Rex FM50 across the pond - permanent import and registration, or ship back and forth keeping it's UK registration?


    Here, it is registered as a moped. In the UK, a MB is referred to as a 'Cyclemotor' by owners and enthusiasts, but there is no such thing in law. If it has an engine of less than 50cc and a max speed of 28mph, it is a moped. Anything larger is a motorcycle. The same rules apply to scooters.

    So legally, this is a moped. It must be registered as a vehicle and be issued with a licence plate. I have a dating certificate from the cyclemotor club which declates it to be a "1960 Rex FM50". This is important as it allows the DVLA (Driver Vehicle and Licencing Agency) to issue a 1960 licence plate. The dating is taken from the engine, not the bicycle, as it is the engine that makes it a moped. It also declares the bicycle to be 'of appropriate age'. This is a DVLA requirement to preventpeople putting a 1960 engine on a 2016 Cannondale bicycle and claiming it to be a 1960 machine. So if I were to take the engine from the Göricke bicycle and put it on another bike 'of appropriate age', it would retain the same licence plate.

    As it is legally a moped, to use it on the Queen's highways, it must be registered, insured with a minimum of unlimited third party cover, road taxed and have an MOT (road worthiness certificate). I must wear an approved helmet when riding it. There is no such thing here as limited liability third party insurance. By law, all vehicle insurance must have unlimited third party cover.

    However, being pre-1975 it is classed as an 'historic vehicle' and is exempt road tax. Also, pre-1960 vehicles are exempt MOT. So mine currently requires an MOT, but this should change soon - the road tax and MOT exemption is expected to become a rolling 40 year exemption.

    To ride a moped, you must also have a moped licence. However, if you passed your car driving testbefore 1st Feb 2001, this also acts as a full moped licence. I passed mine in 1977, so I'm good to go.

    If I bring it across permanantly, it will presumeably have to be registered. It will be used in Tucson and surroundings, where a MB appears to be defined as 48cc and below. My Rex is clearly stated to be 49cc on the engine plate:

    20151120_0760 (1).jpg

    I'm not trying to dodge the system; I'm quite happy to register it if necessary, but don't want to if I don't need to.

    The alternative is to keep it's UK registration and bring it back and forth. This is allowed by US Customs - a visitor can temporarily import a foreign registered vehicle for up to 12 months. The cost would be around $200 in each direction. British Airways won't take a motorized bicycle or moped as hold baggage, but will take a bicycle in a hard sided bike carrier and a de-fueled small engine packed in hold baggage. Taking the engine off is a 15 minute job.

    Insurance may be an issue, but there are a small number of European insurance companies that specialise in Europeans taking motorcycles on vacation to the US and can provide cover for US road use. I don't know if any US insurers will provide cover for foreign registered vehicles.

    A possible disadvantage may be the weird licence plate, which may well attract the attention of law enforcement officers - (example only, not my actual plate, but this is the style):


    There is also the risk of course, that BA may lose all or part of the machine, but moving it back and forth would give me year round use.

    I'd be grateful for member's comments, thoughts or suggestions.

    Best wishes,
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016

  2. troyg

    troyg Member

    Wait for confirmation from actual AZ riders, but I believe there no reg there, you look good.That's a sweet ride, VERY sweet, someone has a stinky leg.I would check into shipping something that's had gas through it, I've had problems there.
    Look at that leaned back seat tube, must be comfy.
  3. TJM

    TJM New Member

    Re-checked with BA and they will only accept a new, never had fuel, engine as hold baggage. So I would have to ship it each way via UPS/Fedex as hazaradous cargo which could prove expensive. Hmmm, more research needed :rolleyes:.

  4. troyg

    troyg Member

    For what it's going to cost you, I suggest you keep it there, every shipment is a GOOD chance of damage, I don't know how rare that bike and engine, but it looks not easy to source.You can easily put one together here, a GEBE on a semi-recumbent or cruiser would be a comfy close second.
  5. KCvale

    KCvale Motorized Bicycle Vendor

    Hi TJM,
    So you are headed here eh?

    I built MB's for a living up the road from Tucson in Phoenix, Arizona.
    It is a pretty friendly MB state for the most part, that meaning law enforcement doesn't mess with you much if are riding safe as MB's are common place here.

    That is one classic jewel you have there and would be highly admired around here, but unless you planned to leave it I suggest you just leave it there and build something new for here as you won't get it here for $200, I can barley ship a completed MB to Tuscon from here for $200.

    Just a thought as a desert based NEW MB for here might be a nice change.
    Nostalgia is nice and all, but nothing trumps new technology for actually getting out at riding, especially in AZ, we don't build up, we sprawl out so little is close.

    Just some thoughts from someone that has lived here for ~50 years.

    In other Arizona news, for the 6th year in a row I am trying to get AZ MB relaxed to 66cc 30mph.
    Maybe this will be the lucky year.

    Speaking of lucky years, do you follow NFL Football?
    About as likely as me following UK Soccer but you might want to bone up on the Arizona Cardinal's NFL team, they play this weekend for the NFC title and a trip to the super bowl, this is a huge statewide thing for us so may want to be aware of that depending when you come.
  6. I think it would be better to build one down here in AZ as people have said shipping things that have had gas in them is such a pain. I mean just look at how stringent it is to import a car to the states from Australia or Japan, they will dock you 100s$ for one leaf that's on you're car from the last country... If it's going to cost more than 500$ I'd build one here and leave it here. When you take it back to the UK will you have to re register?
  7. TJM

    TJM New Member

    Thanks for the replies. The bike less engine, in a bike carrier, would travel as an extra hold bag with a charge of $90. The engine, guessed at 30kg boxed weight, would be $102 via UPS.

    I'm leaning towards permanent import and registration as a moped, and buying something else to play with in the UK. Next I need to do some research to see if, as a 55 year old machine, it would be subject to any sort of customs charges, type approval or emissions checks on import.

    Hi Urchin. If I were to keep it in AZ, I would just leave it registered in the UK. As it would be exempt road tax and MOT it's not going to pop up on the DVLA's radar. They wouldn't bother to check where it was physically located, I'd just stop the UK insurance. Technically, I should notify it as exported and de-register it, but I can't see the DVLA getting in a tizzy over an old bike, even if they ever found out it was no longer in the UK.

    I also need to check to see if proof of title is required to register a moped in AZ. There is no such thing in the UK, so I would have to see if a solicitor friend could knock up something impressive looking.

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  8. KCvale

    KCvale Motorized Bicycle Vendor

  9. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    I live in AZ, and have a VeloSolex 3800, which is basically a French made version of what you have. It too is called a "cyclomoteur" (French spelling) It is not legal in AZ as either a moped or motorized bike. It cannot be registered or insured because it has no title, VIN, and is not DOT approved. It can be ridden as a motorized bicycle, which is how I ride mine (it doesn't get ridden that much) but legally the engine is one cc to big. And it actually tops out at 20 mph, which is the legal limit for motorized bikes here. You can get away with it unless you are involved in an accident and someone gets hurt, then the police and lawyers are going to start looking at it a little more closely.

    Motorized bike laws are pretty simple in AZ, yet they have a bad reputation because of all the irresponsible riders. The speed limit is 20 mph, max engine size is 48cc, you can ride in the bike lanes, but pedal bikes have the right of way. I have found that it is only the spandex crowd that ride anywhere near that fast, most commuters on Walmart bikes ride 7-8 mph, and if I am coming up behind one, I back off the throttle and stay behind them, unless there is a clear opening in traffic where you can pass at least 3 feet away from them (there is also a seldom obeyed law in AZ that says a motorized vehicle may not get closer than 3 feet to a cyclist) No riding on sidewalks or dedicated bike paths. In AZ, the "motor assisted" bicycle is viewed as a commuter vehicle, not a sport bike, and is expected to be ridden in the same way one would ride a regular pedal bike, with the above exceptions. I have no problems riding withing these rules. I like going for long, slow, relaxing bike rides. If you are in a hurry, take a car or motorcycle.
  10. KCvale

    KCvale Motorized Bicycle Vendor

    Interesting view...

    So you think the people that don't have the option of a car or motorcycle should do what for reasonable personal transport?
    When your livelihood depends on your timely transport from place to place do you feel it's best to make it even harder for them to get around and be productive?

    I can't do 19mph on a road with 30+mph traffic, it's stupid and dangerous in my option so I always try to ride that traffic speed.
    19 may be dandy for your 'relaxing rides' bud, when it comes to working and making your way there and back you need some power and speed even though your seldom need both.

    Just asking where you stand on my proposal to relax AZ MB law for MB's for another cheap usable transportation option that posses little threat of injury or damage to anyone or anything but the rider...
    ...and can get you to work on time.
  11. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    For what it costs to build a MB that can safely go 30 mph, you can buy a small used motorcycle that can go twice that speed, and do it safely (well, at least as safely as any 2 wheeler in traffic) I have a 2002 Suzuki DR200, in excellent condition, that I bought for $1200 several years ago. It easily and legally keeps up with traffic. Total yearly cost to register and insure it is $55.

    The AZ state legislature would love to eliminate motorized bicycle laws. The spandex crowd hate them, and they have a pretty strong political lobby. The police hate them. Many ordinary citizens hate them, especially when they are stuck in traffic in a car, and someone on a motorized vehicle buzzes right by them in the bicycle lane. Very few people, even some cops, do not realize we have the right to even ride them in the bike lanes. I am very happy about what we have. In some states they are completely illegal. But just like the fairy tale about the goose that laid golden eggs, if you get greedy and want more and more, you risk losing what you already have. It can happen. Gopeds and pocket bikes were once legal,but after enough accidents and reports of irresponsible riding, they finally got banned. The same thing can happen to motorized bicycles. I would even be in favor of as cheap MB license and maybe a 4 hour training class before it was legal to ride one. (I also recommend that all beginning motorcyclists take the MSF class and get their license before riding a bike) It can not only save the riders life, but just like the CDL I used to have before I became disabled, it also lets the cops know that you have had some training/education and know what the laws are. That makes it a lot easier to ticket someone who knowingly breaks those rules.

    I am against Govt. regulation and money grabbing as much as anyone else, probably a lot more. I am qualified to ride an MB, motorcycle, and drive a car, even an 18 wheeler. And I follow the laws. and operate these vehicles responsibly. So I resent having all these laws to deal with. But after seeing how irresponsibly many others ride and drive, I realize these laws have to be there to protect everybody.

    Off topic, but I also have an AZ CCW permit. I have been around firearms all my life, and know how to safely use them, but I had to take a class to get the permit anyway. It was no big deal, and I didn't complain about it.

    There are laws that pertain to pedal bicycles (like no riding on the sidewalk) but they are rarely enforced. However, IMO anyway, add a motor and things get a lot more serious. You are now operating a motor vehicle. There is one very good part of current AZ motorized bicycle law which apparently does not apply in many states where they are legal. AZ law does not allow someone who lost their license because of a DUI to ride a motorized bicycle. They have to pedal, walk, or ride a bus. Many MB riders are teenagers, who seem to think they can do whatever they want (yes, I was a teenager once, with the same mindset) It wasn't until I almost lost my drivers license due to too many tickets that I finally realized it didn't work that way.
  12. TJM

    TJM New Member

    I won't be bringing the Rex over straight away, so will have plenty of time to visit a MVD office in Tucson. In the meantime, this is my understanding of the relevant laws (thanks KCvale for the links):

    Definition - Arizona law 28-101: "Moped means a bicycle that is equipped with a helper motor if the vehicle has a maximum piston displacement of fifty cubic centimeters or less, a brake horsepower of one and one-half or less and a maximum speed of twenty-five miles per hour or less on a flat surface with less than a one percent grade." - So my Rex will be a moped.

    Title - Arizona law 28-2513: "A certificate of title is not required for a moped that is registered pursuant to this chapter.8"

    VIN - Arizona law 28-2513: "A number permanently affixed to the frame of the moped identifies the moped for registration purposes." - I understand this to mean that the existing original 1958 frame number, stamped on the frame below the seat post will suffice.

    DOT approval - Arizona law 28-2513: "A moped is exempt from........ the provisions of title 49, chapter 3, article 5 relating to vehicle emissions inspections."

    Importation - US Customs and Border Protection website: "Vehicles over 25 years old are exempt from EPA and DOT requirements."

    Obviously, I am interpreting this from 5000 miles away and lack local knowledge, but from what I have read, it should be straight forward to register it in AZ as a moped. I think that the best course of action is to call at the MVD on my next visit to Tucson, armed with the dating certificate, UK importation paperwork, UK registration documents, plus photos of the Rex, and see if they agree with me.

    Best wishes,
  13. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    Your Rex, just like my Solex, is not a legal moped in the state of AZ. It cannot be registered or insured. 50cc vehicles have never been subject to emissions inspections, and as of 3 years ago, no motorcycles or scooters of any size require an emissions inspection. Mopeds more than 25 years old do have to meet DOT standards. My 1975 Puch Maxi had to be registered and insured. It had to have a headlight, tail light, brakelight, license plate light, and horn. No vehicle in AZ is required to have turn signals, arm signals can be used. Probably not safe, but legal. But in order to get any kind of paperwork on it, it must have a VIN (vehicle identification number) My Solex does not have one. So it is not legal as either a moped or a motorized bicycle. No VIN, and 1 cc too big for a motorized bicycle. I ride it as a motorized bicycle, and just hope I am never in a situation which would draw attention to it. The Solex is fairly common in the U.S, it would not be difficult for the the cops or a lawyer to identify one. Just bring your Rex over, put a flashing LED headlight and tail light on it, and ride it like a bicycle. It is HIGHLY unlikely you would ever get into trouble with it if you ride it responsibly.

    This is a Solex very similar to mine
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  14. TJM

    TJM New Member

    Unfortunately, 'winging it' and hoping I don't get into trouble is not an option. We will be visitors entering the US on tourist visas. The CBP are notorious for denying entry or revoking visas for even minor offences. There are UK retirees in their 70s who are being refused entry to the US for being caught with a single joint in the 1960s. It's just not worth the risk.

    Therefore, I am writing to the AZDOT regarding registration, giving full details of the bike and situation. If they say no - fine, I know where I stand. If they say yes - all well and good. Either way I'll be able to plan accordingly.

    I will post their response.

    One other question I forgot to ask - are mopeds/MBs subject to any form of annual roadworthiness inspection? If so, is there such a thing as a 'daylight only test'? Here in the UK, you can register an off-road scrambler or trials bike, without any fitted lights, for road use. After it's roadworthiness inspection, you are given a pass certificate endorsed 'daylight use only'. In fact, you can do the same with any bike without lights, even a 200mph Ducati, and get a daylight only certification.

  15. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    AZ has no "roadworthiness" inspection. Street legal vehicles that require a title and registration are inspected when brought in from another state or country, but only to see if the VIN on the vehicle matches the one on the paperwork. Being so close to the Mexico border, they are on the lookout for stolen vehicles. However, I do not believe your bike falls under the AZ definition of a street legal motor vehicle. My guess, and that's all it is, is that it would be in the same category as my Solex, which is not street legal as either a moped or a motorized bicycle. If you have a current UK registration for it, you might succeed in getting it registered as a moped, but I doubt it. Unfortunately, the U.S., because of the EPA/DOT, does not allow just any vehicle to be registered and titled. There are a number of bikes from other countries, including a couple from Mexico, that I would love to own. But they are not EPA/DOT legal in the U.S. I doubt that would be an issue for a vehicle under 50cc. It will be interesting to see what you hear from AZDOT.

    Also, here in the U.S., a lot of what is legal and what isn't depends on the state. In some states, you can ride a 49cc scooter without pedals, registered as a moped, and only need a drivers license. In AZ ANY motorized vehicle without pedals is classified as a motorcycle, and must be registered as one. A motorcycle license is required to ride it. The difference between a moped, motorcycle, and motorized bicycle is tricky. A moped is a factory made bike with a VIN, designed to meet U.S. requirements, must have pedals, not be over 49cc, must not have a manual transmission, and must not be capable of exceeding 30 mph. A motorcycle has no limitations, other than it must meet EPA/DOT requirements, just like a car. A motorized is usually homemade (an engine kit installed on a regular pedal bicycle) must not exceed 48cc (the 1cc difference between a moped and motorized bicycle is likely to prevent real mopeds from falling under the motorized bicycle law, and to cover the Chinese engine kits, which for some reason are 48cc instead of 49cc. Top speed for a motorized bicycle in AZ is 20 mph, though that depends on the situation. You can be cited for speeding if the cop deems your speed to be excessive for the situation, under the "reasonable and prudent" law. At night a motorized bicycle requires the same lighting equipment as a pedal bike. A headlight and tail light

    AZ is one of the few states that allow conversion of non street legal vehicles (with a VIN and off road registration) to be converted to street legal, simply by adding street legal equipment, lights, horn, mirrors, etc. This is possible because with the exception of private property, there really isn't anything considered off road in AZ. Every dirt road and trail is considered a legal road, and your vehicle must be street legal in order to operate on them. I even converted an ATV, commonly known here as a "quad" to street legal, so I could ride it on what most people would consider "off road" areas.

    In your case, the only thing that prevents your bike from falling under the motorized bicycle law is ONE cc. Even if you were to get cited for it, which is extremely unlikely if you are riding it within the law, it would be a very minor civil violation, probably an equipment violation. People ride 66cc bikes here all the time and get away with it. Cops are mostly looking for reckless riding and serious speeding. I see MBs being ridden on the sidewalks, curb hopping, running stop signs, passing people on pedal bikes way to close, etc. all the time.
  16. KCvale

    KCvale Motorized Bicycle Vendor

    Wow, harsh, you can get medical pot here and a ballot measure this year to make it legal for recreational use.
    A joint in the '60s still hangs on you heads for a Visa?

    Hey, keeping the undesirables out of the US I am all for and applaud countries that screen who can come in, but smoking a doobie is no reason to keep you out, trying to smuggle tons in is another story.